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Catholicism Hearts Chinese Commies?

Cardinal Joseph Zen, the lion of Hong Kong, is not taking Rome's capitulation silently (Mike Chan/Flickr)

According to a top Vatican bishop, an Argentine:

“Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese,” a senior Vatican official has said.

Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, praised the Communist state as “extraordinary”, saying: “You do not have shantytowns, you do not have drugs, young people do not take drugs”. Instead, there is a “positive national conscience”.

The bishop told the Spanish-language edition of Vatican Insider that in China “the economy does not dominate politics, as happens in the United States, something Americans themselves would say.”

The economy does not dominate politics because China is a one-party dictatorship, you boob!


Bishop Sánchez Sorondo said that China was implementing Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ better than many other countries and praised it for defending Paris Climate Accord. “In that, it is assuming a moral leadership that others have abandoned”, he added.

He accused US president Donald Trump of being “manipulated” by global oil firms, and said that, as opposed to those who follow “liberal thought”, the Chinese are working for the greater good of the planet.

Here is a link to the Spanish language original.

This is shameless whoring. Did the bishop forget that China continues to do forced abortions? How can this bishop praise China for implementing the pope’s environmentalist encyclical when China has catastrophically bad air pollution? Look at this 2013 photo of the same scene in Shanghai, taken three days apart:


A year ago, this was the news about the religious liberty situation in China:

In its annual report released March 2, China Aid said Beijing’s shift in how it seeks to manage religion and the adoption of that new policy by government agencies resulted in expanded persecution of individual Christians and greater oppression of unregistered house churches in 2016. Conditions for Christians in the world’s most populous country are expected to deteriorate further this year, the non-profit organization reported.

Chinese President Xi Jinping signaled the shift when he stressed during an April 2016 speech the significance of religions “persistently following the path of Sinicization,” according to the report. China Aid has described “Sinicization” as the effort to “transform Christian theology into a doctrine that aligns with the core values of socialism and so-called Chinese characteristics.” Beijing formerly guided “religion and socialism to mutually adapt,” China Aid reported.

The Vatican under this pope is eager to obey.

Yesterday, George Weigel wrote that the Vatican’s diplomacy with authoritarian regimes continues to be terrible. Excerpt:

If the situation gets worse — if, through increasing repression, Xi Jinping manages to hold together a Maoist political system despite a rising middle class — then what reason is there to have any confidence that the Chinese Communist regime would not tighten the screws on Catholics who challenged the state on human-rights grounds? What reason is there to believe that the Chinese Communists would break the pattern set by Italian fascists, German Nazis, and Eastern and Central European Communists by honoring treaty obligations? Has nothing been learned from the past about the rather elastic view of legality taken by all totalitarian regimes of whatever ideological stripe?

In light of this dismal track record, prudence and caution would seem to be the order of the day in Vatican negotiations with the totalitarians in charge in Beijing. If, on the other hand, things get better in a liberalizing China, with more and more social space being created for civil-society associations and organizations, why should those Chinese interested in exploring the possibility of religious faith be interested in a Catholicism that had kowtowed to the Communist regime? Why wouldn’t Evangelical Protestants who had defied the regime in the heroic house-church movement be the more attractive option?

Weigel, who wrote St. John Paul II’s biography, is right about that. More Weigel:

The truth of the matter is that, today, the only power the Holy See wields is moral power, the slow accretion of moral authority that has come to Catholicism, as embodied by the pope, through the Church’s sometimes sacrificial defense of the human rights of all. How playing Let’s Make a Deal with totalitarians in Beijing who at this very moment are imprisoning and torturing Christians adds to the sum total of Catholicism’s moral authority, or the papacy’s, is, to put it gently, unclear. The same might be said for the de facto betrayal of Rome-loyal bishops in China who are now, it seems, being asked to step aside so that they can be replaced by bishops essentially chosen by the Chinese Communist Party apparatus. This is far less realism than a species of cynicism that ill befits a diplomacy presumably based on the premise that “the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).

Read the whole thing.

There have long been priests eager to sanctify communism, but you ever think you would see it from the Vatican itself? My God. What must John Paul think? Remember him in 1983, putting his finger in the face of Father Ernesto Cardenal, the Sandinista priest who served in the communist government there?

The pope told Cardenal to “regularize” his position with the Church — in effect, telling him that as a priest, he has no business serving as a government official. John Paul had the Code of Canon Law changed to keep priests, monks, and nuns from serving in government, period. This is not the same thing as rebuking Cardenal for serving a communist regime, per se. Still, I love this image, and like to think of St. John Paul II correcting his current successor on the matter of China.

Anybody who defends this episcopal lickspittle Sanchez Sorondo had better not direct a single word of criticism to Evangelical pastors who venerate Donald Trump — who, despite his many sins and failings, does not force abortions on women or send Catholics and others to prison because of their religious beliefs.

The underground Catholic Bishop Shi Enxiang, who spend half of his 94 years in prison for his faith, was not available for comment on Bishop Sanchez’s interview, having died in communist prison in 2015.

But Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong is not shutting up. From his latest:

The mainland brothers and sisters, in the past few days, have heard that the Vatican is ready to surrender to the Chinese Communists, their hearts are probably very uncomfortable. If the illicit and excommunicated bishops are to be legitimized, and the legitimate bishops are to be forced to retreat, wouldn’t the legitimate bishops of the underground communities be worried about their fate? Priests and believers will soon have to obey and respect those who are today illicit and excommunicated but become legitimized bishops by the Holy See because of the backing by the Chinese government. How painful nights will they have to bear?

No need to say tomorrow, but even today the great plague has begun. Since February 1, 2018 the Chinese government will strictly enforce the Religious Regulations. The underground priests of Shanghai have informed their Church members not to go to their Masses. Those who are stubborn and disobedient will probably be detained!

Don’t be afraid, God will heal the broken heart!

UPDATE: Though I am furious over all this, I really am eager to read the best case for the Vatican’s deal with the Chinese. If you see something worth posting, do let me know.

UPDATE.2: A Catholic theologian tweets:


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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